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Hala Gorani Tonight
The House Names Impeachment Managers, Transmits Articles; New Impeachment Evidence Released From Lev Parnas; Trump And China Sign Phase One Trade Deal; Russia's Parliament, Prime Minister Resigns As Putin Proposes Changes; Video Appears To Show Missiles Striking Ukrainian Airliner; U.S. House Votes To Send Impeachment Articles To Senate; Australian Open Hit By Hazardous Air Quality Levels; Survivors Find Little After Volcano In The Philippines Erupts; More Drama For The Duchess Of Sussex. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 15, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, we begin with history in the making on Capitol Hill. Let's get right to our breaking news this hour. After a brief but fiery debate, the
House of Representatives has officially paved the way for U.S. President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate.
It just voted to send the articles of impeachment there and approved House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's appointment of impeachment managers, lawmakers who
will essentially prosecute the case. Top Democrats and Republicans spoke, moments ago on the House floor. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: My colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we are here today to cross a very important threshold
in American history.
We don't want this president or any president to ever violate the Constitution. It is very, very important that we see that that Constitution
is central to who we are as a country.
KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER: If impeachment was truly as urgent as Democrats claimed, the majority should not have waited for the
speaker to choose a political convenient time.
The idea of withholding a sloppy impeachment case to force the Senate to change its rules is constitutionally and politically unheard-of. Frankly,
it's just ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, joining me now is CNN's Senior Political Analyst, John Avlon. Explain to viewers around the world, John -- who are watching us
today -- the significance of today's events.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Politics is history in the present tense, and never more so than today. This is the third time in
American history that a sitting U.S. president has been formally impeached by the House of Representatives: Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor in
1968; Bill Clinton; and now, Donald Trump. Richard Nixon, of course, resigned before being impeached.
It now goes to the Senate. A trial will be conducted, as set up by the founding fathers. No president has been removed from office after being
impeached by the House of Representatives. And it's unlikely, given that it requires a two-thirds vote, that it will happen this time around.
But there is still, even as late as last night, new information coming in that could impact the Senate trial. There's the question of whether --
AVLON: -- additional witnesses will be called, so there's a lot of drama yet to come but a very big day in our democracy.
GORANI: We're going to talk about that new potential evidence. But let's talk about the question of witnesses. Because this is going to be the big
question hanging over the proceedings when they kick off next week. Will witnesses be called to testify?
AVLON: That is the next fight. Mitch McConnell and Republicans would like there not to be. But every single impeachment trial in Senate history --
right? The two previous presidential and then another 15 or so of judges and senators -- have involved new additional witnesses.
And Democrats need to peel off just four Republicans. And the Republicans have said they're open to it, certainly that number. But they're going to
need to make that case. It would be unprecedented to not have new witnesses, but that's where the political fight is and that's where
Democrats say the fix may be in.
Because, obviously, you want more witnesses, especially given the fact that this White House has stonewalled to an unprecedented extent.
GORANI: Donald Trump reacted -- where else? -- on Twitter, and he tweeted this was another con job by the do-nothing Democrats.
Politically -- and this is one of the questions that people around the world ask all the time --
GORANI: -- they ask, will this impeachment of the president and then the subsequent Senate trial hurt the president politically or conversely, could
it possibly help him with his base, energizing people who support him already?
AVLON: Both things could be true. Obviously, you know, it would require a crystal ball. Bill Clinton gained strength through his impeachment --
AVLON: -- Andrew Johnson lost it entirely, couldn't get even re-nominated by his own political party.
So my guess is that the base will rally around Donald Trump, but you can't take the stain away of being only the third president in American history
to be impeached. And these articles of impeachment actually are related to things the founding fathers contemplated, particularly foreign powers
getting involved in domestic politics.
And the new information that's come in does not look good for the president's denials to date, but Republicans have fallen in line behind
him, adopting a strategy that basically says the president did nothing wrong, which flies in the face of the facts and testimonies to date.
GORANI: Yes. You're talking about this evidence that was released and given to Congress by Lev Parnas, who's an associate of Rudy Giuliani --
GORANI: -- the personal attorney of the president.
But stand by, please, John, because I want to get to Lauren Fox, who's on Capitol Hill right now, where the impeachment managers will soon head to
the Senate. They'll be accompanied by a clerk, carrying -- physically carrying -- those articles of impeachment. Talk to us about what to expect,
just in the coming few hours -- Lauren.
LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, just a few moments ago, the House of Representatives approved those seven House managers, and
they approved that those articles of impeachment will be transmitted to the Senate later today, Hala.
Now, I just talked to the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, and asked him, you know, what kind -- what are you feeling right
now? He said, this is a momentous day. We had no other choice but to go on this path.
He also said that the work for him and the other House managers isn't over yet. They have a lot of prep work to do as they work to try to convince
some of those moderate Republicans to maybe not even just vote to remove the president, but vote for more information, vote for witnesses to come
before them in that Senate trial.
So all of the preparation is going to continue behind the scenes. Then, later tonight, you are going to see that pomp and circumstance. You're
going to see those House managers walking to the Senate to deliver the articles.
They'll be accepted in the Senate tomorrow, where you'll see more procedural efforts made, you'll see the swearing-in of John Roberts, the
chief justice. You'll also see senators taking their oath -- a special oath -- as part of this impeachment process, where essentially they are going to
be saying that they vow to be impartial jurors -- Hala.
GORANI: Yes. Lauren Fox, thanks very much.
John, last question to you -- you alluded to this new evidence. Now, this is new evidence that was released by Congress, detailing or bringing to
light a letter by Rudy Giuliani that was penned in May of last year. Also, text messages exchanged between Lev Parnas about surveillance of Marie
Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine.
Without -- we're going to get into the details of the actual evidence a little bit later, but this is the type of thing that perhaps would support
the notion that you need witnesses, right? For this Senate trial?
AVLON: Yes, very clearly. Because in the letter Rudy --
GORANI: Especially with -- sorry -- especially with John Bolton -- sorry to jump in -- especially with John Bolton --
GORANI: -- essentially saying he's willing to testify.
AVLON: Correct. The president's former national security advisor, saying he's open to testifying. The White House, saying they may try to block him,
claiming executive privilege.
But the letter says very clearly -- from Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer -- that he has been -- the president is aware of him
reaching out for a meeting with the Ukrainian president, that he's operating in a personal rather than presidential capacity. And a separate
note, saying very clearly, pressure President Zelensky to announce an investigation into Biden.
The fact pattern is very bad. You really do need additional witnesses to shine light on that. And if the president's position is as cut and dry in
his favor as he and the Republicans are arguing, then they should presumably be vindicated by people on his own staff.
If they try to block those witnesses, which again would be unprecedented, one would think it has to do with a lack of confidence in what people might
say under oath.
GORANI: John Avlon, thanks so much, as always --
AVLON: Thank you.
GORANI: -- for joining us.
As we mentioned with John, senators may have some powerful new evidence to consider. In the past 24 hours, Democrats revealed a trove of documents
from Lev Parnas. Now, Lev Parnas is an associate of the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Now, the evidence includes e-mails and texts that were part of the effort to get Ukraine to investigate Donald Trump's rival Joe Biden and his son,
Hunter, who had ties to a Ukrainian energy company.
The documents -- and John was mentioning this -- include a handwritten note on stationery from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna, in which Lev Parnas
writes, "Get Zelensky" -- the Ukrainian president -- "to announce that the Biden case will be investigated."
There is also a letter from Giuliani last May, trying to set up a meeting between Volodymyr Zelensky -- and this is important -- with the knowledge
and consent of President Trump. This implies that the president signed off on Giuliani's attempt to dig up dirt on the Bidens.
CNN's Kara Scannell joins me now from New York. Talk to us first about this handwritten note on the Ritz-Carlton notepad, and also the Rudy Giuliani
letter from last May. What are they -- what are those two pieces of evidence telling us?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Hala, this new information, you know, gives us documents here when there has not been -- there haven't been very
many documents, you know, at all as it relates to what Rudy Giuliani was doing.
So the handwritten note from Lev Parnas, I mean, that shows that he was jotting down some of his directive, that he was working -- you know, this
was part of the plot with Rudy Giuliani that we've heard so much about, the shadow policy campaign. And that he's writing (ph) down (ph) what their
objective was, which was to get the president-elect, Zelensky, to announce investigations.
Now, the other document, the letter that Rudy Giuliani had written to the president-elect of Ukraine, you know, is the first document that we've seen
that links Rudy Giuliani's shadow policy campaign with Donald Trump for those two key words that you emphasized, that he was doing it with the
knowledge and consent of the U.S. president.
So that will make it a little bit harder for Republicans or even the president's allies to try to distance Giuliani from Trump. Because a lot of
people have been looking to see, is there going to become a point where there is, you know, friction between the two men?
And this is really, though --
SCANNELL: -- the first time we're seeing these documents. We heard from the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, earlier today,
saying that, you know, while they've been asking for witnesses and they want to hear from witnesses, he was saying sometimes witnesses lie but the
documents don't lie. And so Democrats are relying on this, and we might see more coming out as soon as tomorrow.
GORANI: And I just want to bring back up that before I get to the other pieces of evidence, that note that was jotted down on the Ritz-Carlton
Vienna stationery. It's remarkable, right? Because it really spells it out, word for word. "Get Zelensky to announce that the Biden case will be
I mean, first of all, why -- how was this kept? I mean, do we know why someone who writes something like this that could potentially be
incriminating, ends up in a trove of documents that the intelligence community and Congress are able to evaluate?
SCANNELL: Well, it's interesting. People I've spoken with who know Lev Parnas -- and he's the source of these documents -- they say he records
things, he keeps, you know, kind of a stash of record in everything that he's done, going back for years.
This was all seized. And this was seized off of cell phones, computers that the government had taken from Parnas and from his residence when he was
indicted on campaign finance charges. So this information was just recently handed over to Parnas. His lawyer drove down to Washington, D.C. from New
York over the weekend, to hand-deliver some of these files.
And so the House investigators are still going through this. But the pattern and practice of Lev Parnas from everything that we've learned, is
that he does keep meticulous records and he has recordings and some of those recordings he has given to the Democrats.
GORANI: That's interesting that that's something that was kept by him. Clearly, there must be a lot more to sift through if this is just what
we're seeing there with the first look-through.
And there's another name, by the way, a new name in all of this -- as if things weren't complicated enough -- Trump supporter and congressional
candidate Robert Hyde, it's this man. Exchanges between Hyde and Lev Parnas suggest that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie Yovanovitch,
was under surveillance.
In March, Hyde said she was "under heavy protection outside" Ukraine. Parnas responded with language we can't repeat on the air. And two days
later, Hyde said, "They are moving her tomorrow."
Hyde tells Parnas, "Wake up, Yankees man. She's talked to three people." He says her phone and computer are off, and he appears to know she is next to
the embassy, not in it. He says, private security, "they will let me know when she's on the move."
And then Hyde goes on to say, "They are willing to help if we/you would like a price." "Guess you can anything in the Ukraine with money."
So again, Kara, is this proof that Yovanovitch was being spied on by an associate of the president's personal attorney here? This is a U.S.
SCANNELL: Yes. I mean, this revelation is very disturbing to the diplomatic community, we've been hearing that today. And what's very
interesting about this is, we see these text messages and it kind of raises even more questions than it answers because it does suggest that -- and I
say that because we never heard of Robert Hyde before, and he's a new person who enters the frame.
So who was he? How was he connected to these people? Was he in a sense freelancing or was he doing this on Rudy Giuliani's behalf? These are
questions we just don't know the answer to. But it does raise a lot of questions about, you know, what he was doing.
He makes references to people on the ground. There's a sense, from his text messages, that they were possibly having electronic surveillance of her, to
know that her phone was turned off or her computer was turned off, or that they had a source on the inside of the embassy, feeding information out.
Now, you know, Yovanovitch, when she testified during impeachment inquiry, she said that there were concerns in the embassy about her security, when
she was very, you know, abruptly recalled back to the U.S., and then ultimately revoked from her position.
But, you know, there were questions about this. She didn't know what to make of it at the time. Now, maybe this fills in some of these blanks. Her
lawyer has asked for an investigation to find out and get to the bottom of whether she was actually surveilled.
What's interesting, I heard from Lev Parnas' lawyer Joe Bondy today, and he denied categorically that Lev Parnas had any involvement with the
surveillance or even, you know, the suggestion of potential harm to the ambassador. So we're really going to have to wait to see how this plays out
And if there's other evidence in the trove of documents that, you know, can support this or explain this because it is a new development and a new
person that has now entered this inquiry -- Hala.
GORANI: And Marie Yovanovitch testified that she felt, you know, that she felt attacked, that she felt targeted. Kara Scannell, thanks very much.
I want to go to New Orleans and CNN Legal Analyst, Ross Garber, who teaches all about political investigations and impeachment at Tulane Law School,
and who also defended four governors facing impeachment.
So talk to us about what to expect, going forward. Because in American history, this has seldom happened. In this case, we might not get witnesses
and that would be unprecedented, correct?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it would be unprecedented. Although, actually -- so this is very, very rare in American history. There have only
been two other presidents who faced trial in the Senate.
But in the last trial, it was interesting. There weren't witnesses in the way we think of it commonly. There weren't witnesses who actually came to
the Senate floor and provided testimony. What happened was, there were depositions.
There were witnesses who testified, under oath, but not in front of the Senate. And then excerpts of those depositions were played by the lawyers
for the House and for the president. And so it was somewhat different than -- but it would be unusual to have a trial without witnesses.
But one other point on that, though, is that if the rules are the same as in the Clinton case, all of the evidence that the House accumulated,
including all of the witness testimony that the House got, would be admitted automatically before the Senate.
So it wouldn't be like the Senate's going to handle this matter without considering any evidence at all. All of that would already be admitted --
GARBER: -- if the Senate adopts the same rules as the -- as in the Clinton trial.
GORANI: So if there are no witnesses, there are still material and evidence that will be considered in the Senate. But then what else would
happen? Would there be statements? The senators are really the jury in a Senate trial. So they won't be speaking, they'll just be considering what
is presented to them, right?
GARBER: Yes. Although, you know, interestingly enough, you know, one of the few issues that the chief justice, who presides over a Senate trial,
ruled on in the Clinton trial was that one senator objected to being called a juror and the chief justice actually agreed to that.
But it is true, the senators don't get to do what they normally do, which is talk a ton. The lawyers, what we expect -- and a lot of it's going to
depend on the rules that we're going to see over the next couple of days.
What we expect is that the lawyers for the House and for the president are going to make extensive arguments and then the senators are going to be
able to ask questions in writing. Write down those questions, give them to the chief justice. and then the chief justice will be able to read the
GORANI: Let me ask you about some of the new evidence here that will be considered, I imagine, right? This new evidence that was released by the
House of Representatives, including a letter --
GARBER: So it's a great --
GORANI: -- by Rudy Giuliani , the president's personal attorney. Is that something that senators will be able to consider during the trial?
TEXT: "I have a more specific request. In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting
with you on this upcoming Monday, May 13th or Tuesday, May 14th." Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney
GARBER: It's exactly the right question. And the answer is, we don't know. We don't know what the rules are going to look like. Under the Clinton
rules, as I said, all of the information that the House got as part of their impeachment investigation, automatically became evidence in the
Senate trial. And the president then didn't get to object to it.
If those same rules are adopted, there's still going to be a question and maybe a fight over whether evidence that the House gets after they passed
the articles of impeachment, automatically become evidence or whether there's going to be a fight over whether it's relevant and material and
reliable and all of that stuff.
GORANI: What's your best guess as to how it will all unfold? Because there are senators up for re-election whose -- who perhaps politically feel it's
in their best interest to support the idea of calling witnesses. What do you think?
GARBER: Yes. So we -- the Senate is run by a majority, and the Republicans have the majority. As you note, we're keeping an eye on four senators who
are viewed as swing votes, who could go one way or the other. And with 51 votes, that controls the Senate.
Right now, what we're hearing is that the Senate majority leader, the Republican, doesn't want an extensive trial, doesn't want witnesses,
doesn't want a lot of debate, wants to get this over with quickly.
And the big question is, can he convince four Republicans to move over and side -- excuse me, can the Democrats convince four Republicans to move over
and side with the Democrats? And that is a big open question. Today, I seriously doubt that could happen but this is a very, very fluid situation
and, you know, we're going to have to wait and see.
GORANI: Ross Garber, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for explaining everything so clearly.
Still to come tonight, President Trump takes a victory lap as he signs a deal with China. But is the substance of phase one worth the praise?
And new video of the last terrifying moments of the Ukraine Airlines Flight 752. We will walk you through this frame by frame. We will be right back.
GORANI: The U.S. and China have signed phase one of a long-awaited trade agreement. The countries' leaders hope it will ease the trade war between
the world's largest economies.
Phase one of the deal will roll back some U.S. tariffs on Chinese exports, but many more will stay in place. And Beijing has promised to more than
double the amount of goods that it buys from American farmers in the first year, who have suffered quite a bit.
The U.S. president says it's a significant first step.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Phase one, which has been really incredible -- you know, we almost had the whole deal done, but this
is better. This is a more detailed deal for this aspect of the deal. It was such a big deal before, and this is a much more targeted, much more
powerful deal for everything we're doing.
We're going to be starting phase two -- as soon as this kicks in, we'll be starting phase two.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Our Richard Quest is with us, and CNN Global Economic Analyst, Rana Foroohar joins me from New York.
So, Rana, what is the big headline here, for our viewers not intimately following these trade discussions? What did we -- what are we learning from
the presentation of phase one?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, I think the headline is, this isn't a trade deal, it's a trade truce. In some ways, it's much
ado about nothing --
FOROOHAR: -- in the sense that a lot of the so-called issues that are being solved were actually problems that were caused by the Trump
Look, it's a big deal that the Chinese are going to buy this much U.S. agricultural products. The big question is whether farmers can actually
provide this much. I mean, we're already seeing concerns that these targets are so high that we might not be able to meet them.
The thing that concerns me though is that you're going to see a lot of talk from the administration about how much progress has been made around things
like intellectual property and the idea that U.S. companies won't have to do forced tech transfers any more to the Chinese, but these are things that
were already baked in. The Chinese were already moving toward stronger patent protection, towards more I.P. --
FOROOHAR: -- protection. So I think to laud this as a big deal for the Trump administration would be wrong.
GORANI: And, Richard, markets, how are they reacting? Are they relieved or what's going on there?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: The markets -- well, the markets knew this was coming, and the market went up dutifully at around about 100, 130-
odd points. And that's pretty much where it's been, up 150. So we're just nearly at the highs of the day over 29,000.
This is the 96-page agreement. And as Rana says, you know, they put at the front of it, all -- if you like -- the juicy and the sexy bit. Trade
secrets, copyright protection, technology transfer.
Now, if you take it on its face value, all the right words are in all the right places in the right order. But whether or not China will live up to
these commitments and the dispute mechanisms that are put into place -- and that's what the people are saying about this. Fine, some nice words. But
nobody's sure anybody -- that the Chinese can or will live up to it.
GORANI: And what do you think, Rana, in terms of whether or not the -- because this is phase one. As you mentioned, from what you're saying, Rana,
we've pretty much gone back to pre-trade war -- pre-trade war situation --
GORANI: -- so what happens now?
FOROOHAR: Yes, I think that really, not just this deal but the last two years of conflict has actually just sped up a transition that the Chinese
were already eager to make. They had announced in their five-year plan that they wanted to be independent from Western technology by the year 2025.
We're now seeing them try and speed that process forward.
One of the reasons that there aren't specific ways to enforce this deal is that there's still a lot of confusion about what can be imported or
exported from China to the U.S., the chip wars will continue between Huawei and Qualcomm. You're going to see, I think, the Chinese moving much more
quickly to create their own supply chains, their own ring-fenced (ph) industry.
And that's an important point. The Trump administration was not able to make any progress in terms of changing the underlying Chinese economic
model. They will still give preferential subsidies to their own industries --
FOROOHAR: -- and I think that you're going to see them try and become more and more independent from Western technology.
QUEST: The other thing is that we're not going back to the pre-trade war situation because most of the more than $300 billions' worth of tariffs
remain. And we know how much President Trump loves tariffs, as he sees them as being a government revenue-raising project, despite who pays for them.
So in terms of the tariff relief, there's a certain amount of rolling-back. And certainly, you know, it's a standstill in many cases. So the world will
continue to life in a tariffed environment between the U.S. and China for the foreseeable future, and many say that's not going to change.
GORANI: Very briefly, Rana, beyond the U.S.-China relationship, countries like Germany, others have suffered tremendously from this trade war, the
big exporting nations.
GORANI: Are they --
FOROOHAR: Hunter --
GORANI: -- should they breathe a sigh of relief here, or not yet?
FOROOHAR: I don't think so, not yet because I think what you're going to see now, is both the U.S. and China lobbying Europe to take on their own
technologies. You know, the U.S. is lobbying the U.K. to not use Huawei equipment; there's already a standoff with the Germans, with the Italians,
with the Greeks who are adopting Chinese equipment.
I think that when we look ahead in six months, a year, three years, we're going to see a much more polarized world. I don't think that this is going
to bring people together. I think that it's simply speeding up a new kind of regionalization that was already baked in.
GORANI: Rana Foroohar and Richard Quest, thanks very much. Richard, we'll see you at the top of the hour. on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."
QUEST: You (ph) will (ph).
GORANI: Still to come tonight, imagine, a plane struck by a missile and struggling to stay in the air for up to half a minute, until it is hit
again. Ahead, images of the last moments of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752.
And a major shakeup in the Russian government. Who's in, who's out and who's getting a new job and why Vladimir Putin may be doing it all. We'll
be right back.
GORANI: The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is proposing sweeping constitutional changes the same day as the massive government shakeup.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that he and the country's entire parliament would step down to make way for the proposed reforms.
Mr. Putin's amendments would shift some power from the presidency to parliament and the prime minister. Critics worry he's trying to extend his
role long after his it ends in 2024. President Putin has announced his choice for Medvedev's replacement.
Fred Pleitgen is following it all from Moscow. And I should have said Medvedev and the entire government, not the entire parliament. So apologies
for what was in the prompter there.
Talk to us about what Vladimir Putin might have in mind here. Because some analysts are suggesting he's trying to set the scene for essentially an
open-ended reign in Russia, past 2024.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There certainly are some people who are saying that. And there is a lot of
speculation going on tonight.
Hala, this move was absolutely unexpected by anyone here in Russia as well. I was actually looking at Russian T.V. when this news broke. And they
didn't even break out of programming because they were so caught off guard by all of this.
But you're absolutely right. There are some analysts who are saying that maybe Vladimir Putin is sort of setting the stage for what happens after
2024. Of course, then he would have finished his second stint as president, and his second or his fourth term in total as president, and would have to
step down according to the Russian constitution.
Now, as you've noted, these changes, constitutional changes that Vladimir Putin wants would essentially give more power to the Russian parliament.
Because the Russian parliament would then elect the prime minister who would then answer to the parliament but not answer to the president.
So the next President of Russia going to be a lot weaker than the current president of Russia while the prime minister will be a lot more powerful
than the current prime minister.
Now, there are some who believe maybe Vladimir Putin is looking to make a move back to being prime minister. Maybe Vladimir Putin will have some sort
different role where stronger prime minister would be beneficial to him.
It really is unclear at this point in time. He certainly still has four years to decide what exactly he wants to do with this new situation.
First of all, these amendments are going to have to be approved. There was talk of a possible referendum. It's unclear whether or not that's going to
And then there's the person that he chose to succeed Mr. Medvedev, which is the current head of Russia's federal tax service. His name is Mikhail
Mishustin, and if you don't -- if you've never heard of this name before, Hala, neither have most Russians. It came as a surprise to most people here
This man has been the head of the federal tax service for about 10 years now. He doesn't really have any sort of history in elected office. And is
not someone who's known to be a well-known politician here.
So it really looks as though a technocratic government is being set in place and then, really, it's anyone's guess how Vladimir Putin is going to
move forward with that situation.
But the one thing that is clear in the situation is that the man in charge at this point is still very much Vladimir Putin and there are certainly
people who believe that he's going to try and keep it that way beyond 2024 as well even though right now that really is leading to a lot of
speculation here in Russia also, Hala.
GORANI: And, of course, Russia, Russian interference, Vladimir Putin, in fact, has been a big topic of discussion. All of these things during the
Trump presidency. And I wonder, how are ordinary Russians, are they following the impeachment proceedings? Do they care? What do they think
PLEITGEN: Well, I'm not sure if many people here care. I mean, they do have a lot of other problems to deal with as well, economic problems, no less.
And I think the main topic for most Russians, if you ask the foreign policy, by far and away, is still Ukraine. It's a country that's close to
them both culturally and, of course, geographically as well.
But having said that, they do follow the impeachment proceedings and they do follow all that very, very closely. And obviously, they also follow what
their own government and what their own head of state is saying about the impeachment proceedings.
And if you look at Vladimir Putin's position on that, which he's made clear in a big press conference at the end of last year, he seems pretty firm in
President Trump's corners. He's saying that he believes that this impeachment was being held due to made up reasons as he put it. He also
says he believes that President Trump will not be removed from office.
So it certainly seems that Vladimir Putin's clear on this. But -- and while most Russians, it's not among the top five topics that they probably think
about all the time, it is certainly something that a lot of people are pretty well informed about here as well, Hala.
GORANI: Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much.
Iran's president is calling for unity after all those protests over the shoot down of a Ukrainian airliner last week that killed all 176 people on
CNN's Nic Robertson tells us there is newly released video appearing to show the moment two missiles struck the plane. Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Hala, this video is very dramatic and it's also horrific in so many ways, because it gives an
insight into just what happened and how terrible it must have been to be aboard that Ukrainian flight.
You can see here on the CCTV video as the missile takes off from the side of the screen, and it flies across. It's flying towards that Ukrainian
passenger jet. No one on board would have had any indication this was coming. They've just taken off from the airport in Tehran.
And then you get to see this flash, the impact there coming up right there. That took about 20 seconds.
Now, in about another 10 seconds or so, you see that second missile take off from the side of the screen there, take off flying towards the plane.
There it goes, and what you're seeing here, a slightly shorter time span. The plane flying towards clearly where the missiles are taking off. And
then you see that second impact there again.
So the passengers on board the aircraft, it was flying there for another thirty-seconds or so onboard that aircraft. It was still in the air. So the
implication being the shrapnel have ripped through the plane. The plane was still flying terrible and tragic last moments of that flight, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Nic, thanks very much. Terrifying there for people onboard that doomed flight.
Well, Iran has neither confirmed nor denied that the video is authentic.
Meantime, Iran's prime minister spoke out about this shoot-down and the events surrounding it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER OF IRAN: A hundred and eighty families are mourning the loss of very, very bright young people. We
lost a lot of very bright minds. Why did it happen? Because there was a crisis. People make mistakes. Unforgivable mistakes. But it happened in the
time of a crisis. We need to make sure that these crises will be prevented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. Of course, in the first few days after that plane went down, you'll remember, Iran was saying it was refusing to hand over the
black boxes, and then a few days later forced to acknowledge that it was an accidental shoot-down.
Back to our top story now, the U.S. House is voting to send the impeachment of Donald Trump over to the Senate for a trial. The House voted to appoint
seven impeachment managers for that trial including several of the senior Democrats who led the impeachment hearings, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler.
The vote takes impeachment out of the hands of the Democratic-controlled House and hands it over to the Republican-controlled Senate.
So what comes next and how will the impeachment trial work? Joining me now is someone who knows all about this, Allen Freeman, was the parliamentarian
of the United States during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He's now a CNN contributor. Thanks so much for being with us.
Is your expectation, sir, that the new evidence that was revealed today, for instance that letter that Rudy Giuliani wrote in May of last year,
requesting a meeting with Zelensky. Do you think all of that new evidence will be considered by the Senate during the trial, or do we not know at
ALAN FRUMIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, we don't know at this stage. We have a tremendous number of thoughtful senators who I believe are open to evidence
and open to persuasion as well. And at this point, I think that everybody should keep their powder dry and nobody should make any predictions.
GORANI: And when you say there are senators open, what would sway them one way or the other, do you think?
FRUMIN: Well, I'm a process person, not a political person. So I look to process. And, of course, the issue that's been discussed all along is, will
there be witnesses? And it seems to me -- and there have always been witnesses at impeachment trials.
So what I assume will happen if more and more information is brought to bear, that the impetus to bring a number -- a sufficient number of
Republican senators to agree to listen to witnesses, I believe that that will continue to grow.
GORANI: And if there are no witnesses, then I think people are a little confused. Because they're used to seeing criminal and civil trials where
witnesses go to the witness stand and they testify. That's not how it works. But if there are no witnesses, then how can there be a trial? What
evidence will be considered and how?
FRUMIN: Well, if there are no witnesses, the record of the trial will be the record that the House of Representatives sends over with the actual
articles of impeachment.
And in the case of Bill Clinton's impeachment, that record covered several hundred pages in the congressional record. That record and the complaint,
the articles of impeachment will be sent to the president and he will be invited to, compelled to submit an answer, and trust me, he will do so. I'm
sure his lawyers were working on that right now.
And once he submits an answer to the Senate, the House of Representatives is told to reply to the Senate -- to president's answer. Formally, that's
called a replication. So you'll have hundreds and hundreds of pages of documentation, charges against the president, his answer to the charges,
and the House's response to the president's answer.
GORANI: And if there are witnesses, how does the Senate hear from the witnesses?
FRUMIN: In the Clinton case, the Senate authorized taking of depositions off the floor of the Senate. There were no live Senate witnesses. Witnesses
were deposed off the floor, they were deposed by groups of Senators, bipartisan groups of senators. And after that, some questions were raised
on the floor of the Senate as to the extent to which videotapes of those depositions should be shown on the floor and/or transcripts read on the
GORANI: And any presidential response to the accusations or to the articles of impeachment, that is in what format is that written usually or how does
FRUMIN: Yes. That's a written response to the initial complaint and the articles of impeachment.
GORANI: All right. And then is that read out? I mean, how does it -- is it -- is it read out? How was it then considered by the senators I the format
of a Senate impeachment trial?
FRUMIN: Given the voluminous nature of these pleadings and proceedings, it is not read out loud on the floor of the Senate. It is simply considered
part of the impeachment trial record.
GORANI: All right. And usually, just last question, impeachment trials take weeks and weeks, right? The expectation is that this impeachment trial, as
well will be in that range in terms of length?
FRUMIN: Well, that's going to depend on the majority of the Senate. Once the Senate is in an impeachment trial, the ground rules are governed by
simple, a vote of a simple majority of the Senate. And they could determine how many witnesses -- if any witnesses, if so, how many, and how long the
trial will last. You can have either a very short trial, a very long trial, but that's going to be decision made by a majority of the Senate.
GORANI: And lastly as a former parliamentarian of the U.S. Senate, what -- I mean, what are your thoughts on a big historic day like today? What went
through your mind when you saw that vote today in the House authorizing the resolution?
FRUMIN: My thoughts are the impeachment of a president is an enormously significant event, regardless of what side you're on politically. This has
-- this has happened only three times in American history.
And the gravity of the event is underscored by the fact that the chief justice of the United States must preside over this impeachment trial. So
you have the head of the judicial branch of the government, one-third of our federal government, coming to the Senate one-half of one-third of our
federal government to adjudicate charges against the head of the executive branch of the government.
It really doesn't get any more monumental in our system of checks and balances than this.
GORANI: Alan Frumin, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate having you on the program.
Still to come --
FRUMIN: Thank you for having me.
GORANI: -- tonight -- thank you. Thick smoke. You can see the images there. Unbelievable. Thick smoke over Melbourne after months of bushfires.
Tennis players at the Australian Open, some of them are saying they can't go on. More, next.
GORANI: Well, those massive bushfires ravaging Australia are creating problems for one of the world's biggest tennis tournaments. A thick layer
of smoke is blanketing Melbourne leading to air quality concerns for players at the Australian Open in the second day. Will Ripley has our
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): People here in Melbourne are enjoying the cooler temperatures, the result of a massive
storm system that moved through earlier in the day, on Wednesday, providing at least some temporary relief from the squelching hot temperatures and, of
course, that thick haze that has enveloped the city in recent days.
At times, making the air quality hazardous. Air quality that is taking a toll on at least some of the players who are here including a Slovenian
player who was forced to forfeit her match because of breathing difficulties.
It was really dramatic video. You saw her -- she had a coughing fit. And at one point, collapsed to her knees. Certainly not the kind of optics that
the organizers of the Australian Open would like to see, especially given the fact that people already complained about the extreme heat here in
Melbourne this time of year. Of course, this is summertime in Australia.
But when you combine the heat with that thick smoky air and the fact that players are out for hours at a time physically exerting themselves for
three, four, even five hours, it can be a pretty dangerous and very strenuous physical situation for the players who are on the ground here
including some of the biggest stars in tennis like Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Nadal and Federer actually donated significant money to fire relief efforts at a charity event that was taking place at the stadium behind me here.
Raised more than three million U.S. dollars.
People all around the world have been rallying to support Australia in this time of national crisis. There are dozens of fires that are burning across
this country right now, significant fires that are creating huge smoke plumes.
We saw one of them as we were flying into Melbourne. You can actually see the smoke plume rising above the cloud line. Pretty unsettling especially
given the fact that dozens of flights had to be cancelled because of the heavy smoke, including the flight that took off from Sydney just 30 minutes
We obviously did land safely, people are here, they're trying to get out and enjoy the weekend before one of Australia's most important sporting
events as best they can.
But with high temperatures and more hazardous air quality in the forecast throughout the weekend, it's really going to be touch and go to see how all
of this affects the Australian Open.
Will Ripley, CNN, Melbourne, Australia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And in the Philippines, it's still a race against time to get people out of the area of Taal Volcano. The volcano has erupted once
already and there are fears that it could happen again, 50,000 people are in shelters.
And CNN's Blake Essig reports that some have nothing left but the clothes on their backs.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You can hear the fear in his voice. Frantic moments racing across a moonlight landscape.
Risking everything to see what's left of the life he left behind.
After several days of continuous eruptions, this is the scene from Taal Volcano Island, what this man found homes destroyed, decimated plant life,
and to his surprise, several horses covered in ash. In the end, forced to leave them behind.
On the other side of the lake, the cleanup effort is underway. Despite the effort by police to keep people from returning and the government issuing a
mandatory total evacuation of nearly half a million people. That includes everyone living within a 14-kilometer radius of the volcano which
scientists believe would blow at any moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): We cannot fault these people going back to check on their homes. First, they want to check their homes, their
ESSIG: Defiantly, many people, including 20-year-old, Rans Matteo (ph) sneak past authorities daily in an effort to salvage what's left of his
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our house was destroyed. We have nothing. No more house to go back to.
ESSIG: And he's not alone. 52-year-old, Vangie Sarmiento said she's also lost everything.
VANGIE SARMIENTO, EVACUEE (through translator): It was totally destroyed. I only saw it yesterday. I saw our barangay and can't help but cry. I asked
myself, how can we rebuild our lives? How can we start again?
ESSIG: Sarmiento, along with more than 53,000 people, are now living in temporary evacuation shelters which some say lack food, water, and
clothing. Confined a cardboard mattresses on the floor until Taal goes back to sleep.
Blake Essig, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: Well, still to come tonight, more drama for the duchess. Why Meghan's father might now be getting involved, as the royals face the
fallout from their decision to step back. We'll be right back.
GORANI: U.S. officials are investigating an in-air emergency that forced the Delta pilot to dump jet fuel. The fuel ended up falling on an
elementary school among other places in L.A.
Nick Watt reports.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Those aren't vapor trails. That's jet fuel. Enough to fly all the way to Shanghai, dumped from low
altitude over one of the most populous cities in the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plane was coming over and it was throwing gasoline.
WATT: The fuel hit six schools and 60 people here at Park Avenue Elementary kids were out on the playground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was so scared so we just went inside. And then, my eyes were itching. And then -- so I came inside to the auditorium.
WATT: Twenty kids here were hit. They were confused, panicked. One kid said it felt like rain but he couldn't see any clouds.
SKY CORNELL, INSPECTOR, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Within four minutes, we had units on-scene. We have approximately 40 to 50 firefighters
here, all from -- everything from paramedics, ambulances are assisting us.
WATT: How did this happen? Flight 89 to Shanghai took off at 11:32 a.m., then according to Delta, experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft
to return quickly to LAX. The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It got in my eye and I'm blurred.
WATT: The statement notes that Delta shares "concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children at a school in the area."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started -- like my skin was like itchy.
WATT: Thankfully, nothing a little soap and water couldn't cure. Everyone was OK.
GORANI: Nick Watt.
Some members of the royal family are stepping back out after the news the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pulling back on royal duties. And there is
new drama for Meghan.
Max Foster has our story.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The royal family keeping calm and carrying on as is their style. All smiles from the Duke
and Duchess of Cambridge here in Bradford for their first public engagements since the family crisis meeting at Sandringham earlier in the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: William, are you allowed to --
The Duchess of Sussex out, too, in Canada, carrying out her own visit to a women's shelter in Vancouver. The British press still hot on her heels.
Paparazzi shots of her boarding a seaplane with a big smile on her face.
FOSTER (on-camera): Meanwhile, here in London, court papers were released relating to case the Duchess of Sussex brought against The Mail on Sunday
over a letter they published from her to her father in 2018. Raising the question, will he appear as a defense witness in court?
FOSTER (voice-over): Meghan filed a suit against the paper last year for allegedly publishing the letter unlawfully. She claims misuse of private
information and breach of data protection rights.
New court documents outlined the defense case that there was huge and legitimate public interest in members of the royal family and their
personal and family relationships. The publisher adds the duchess knew that it was possible and even likely that Thomas Markle would share the letter
with the media.
No date has been set for this trial, and the duchess hasn't revealed whether she plans to appear in court.
Royal watchers are already touting this as the trial of the century which could reveal what really went on in the run-up to Meghan and Harry's high-
profile wedding. Something that coaches would prefer to keep firmly behind palace wall.
Max Foster, CNN, London.
GORANI: Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.